What are the benefits of betaine in the body?
Betaine, also known as trimethylglycine, is a naturally occurring compound found in foods such as beets, spinach, and whole grains. It has several potential benefits for the body, including:
- Improved athletic performance: Betaine has been shown to enhance exercise performance by increasing power output and improving muscle endurance. It may also reduce fatigue and improve recovery time.
- Improved heart health: Betaine may help lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. By reducing homocysteine levels, betaine may help improve heart health.
- Improved liver function: Betaine has been shown to improve liver function in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It may also help protect the liver from damage caused by alcohol consumption.
- Improved cognitive function: Betaine may help improve cognitive function, particularly in older adults. It has been shown to improve memory, processing speed, and executive function.
- Improved digestive health: Betaine may help improve digestive health by increasing stomach acid production and improving the digestion of protein.
Learn more about how betaine helps Improved athletic performance.
Betaine has been shown to have potential benefits for athletic performance by enhancing power output and improving muscle endurance. Here are some of the ways betaine may improve athletic performance:
- Increased creatine production: Betaine can increase the body’s production of creatine, a substance that plays a key role in energy production during exercise. This can lead to increased power output during high-intensity exercises, such as weightlifting or sprinting.
- Improved muscle endurance: Betaine may help improve muscle endurance by reducing fatigue during exercise. This may be due to its ability to improve oxygen utilization and reduce the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles.
- Enhanced recovery: Betaine may also help improve recovery time after exercise. In one study, athletes who took betaine supplements experienced less muscle damage and soreness after a bout of high-intensity exercise compared to those who took a placebo.
- Improved hydration: Betaine has osmolytic properties, meaning it helps regulate water balance in the body. This can be particularly beneficial for athletes, as dehydration can negatively impact athletic performance.
Learn more about how betaine helps Improved heart health.
Betaine has been shown to have potential benefits for heart health by reducing levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid that, when elevated, has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Here are some of the ways betaine may improve heart health:
- Reducing homocysteine levels: Betaine can donate a methyl group to homocysteine, converting it into methionine. This process is known as remethylation and helps to reduce homocysteine levels in the blood.
- Improving blood lipid profiles: Betaine may help improve blood lipid profiles, including reducing triglycerides and increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. This can help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Reducing inflammation: Betaine may have anti-inflammatory effects, which can help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Inflammation is thought to play a role in the development of atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries and can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
- Enhancing nitric oxide production: Betaine may help enhance nitric oxide production, which can improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease.
Learn more about how betaine helps Improved liver functions.
Betaine has been shown to have potential benefits for liver function, particularly in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Here are some of the ways betaine may improve liver function:
- Reducing fat accumulation in the liver: Betaine can help reduce fat accumulation in the liver, which is a key feature of NAFLD. This may be due to its ability to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation.
- Improving liver enzyme levels: Betaine can help improve liver enzyme levels, which are often elevated in people with NAFLD. In one study, people with NAFLD who took betaine supplements for 12 weeks had significant reductions in liver enzyme levels compared to those who took a placebo.
- Protecting against alcohol-induced liver damage: Betaine may help protect the liver against alcohol-induced damage. One study found that betaine supplementation reduced liver damage in rats exposed to high levels of alcohol.
- Improving bile flow: Betaine may help improve bile flow, which is important for liver function and digestion. Bile helps to break down fats and absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
Learn more about how betaine helps Improved cognitive functions.
Betaine has been shown to have potential benefits for cognitive function, particularly in older adults. Here are some of the ways betaine may improve cognitive function:
- Increasing choline levels: Betaine can donate a methyl group to homocysteine, converting it into methionine. This process also releases choline, which is important for brain health. Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in memory and learning.
- Improving methylation: Betaine is involved in the methylation cycle, which is important for the regulation of gene expression and the synthesis of neurotransmitters. Methylation is also important for the maintenance of healthy brain cells.
- Reducing inflammation: Betaine may have anti-inflammatory effects, which can help to protect brain cells and improve cognitive function. Inflammation is thought to play a role in the development of age-related cognitive decline.
- Improving blood flow: Betaine may help improve blood flow to the brain, which is important for the delivery of oxygen and nutrients. This can help to improve cognitive function.
Learn more about how betaine helps Improved digestive health.
Betaine has been shown to have potential benefits for digestive health by increasing stomach acid production and improving the digestion of protein. Here are some of the ways betaine may improve digestive health:
- Increasing stomach acid production: Betaine is a source of hydrochloric acid (HCl), which is important for the digestion of protein and other nutrients. Betaine supplements can help increase stomach acid production in people with low stomach acid levels.
- Improving protein digestion: Betaine can help improve the digestion of protein by breaking it down into smaller peptides and amino acids. This can improve the absorption of protein and other nutrients.
- Reducing symptoms of acid reflux: Betaine supplements may help reduce symptoms of acid reflux, a condition in which stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus. This is because betaine can help to increase the acidity of the stomach, which can prevent acid reflux from occurring.
- Supporting liver function: Betaine may help improve liver function, which can indirectly improve digestive health. The liver plays a key role in the digestion and metabolism of nutrients.
What is the recommended daily intake of betaine?
The recommended daily intake of betaine can vary depending on the specific health condition or goal of the individual. However, the generally recommended daily dose of betaine for
- healthy adults range from 1.5 to 6 grams daily, taken in divided doses throughout the day with meals.
- For athletic performance: some studies have used doses of up to 2.5 grams per day, although more research is needed to determine the optimal dose and timing of supplementation.
- For heart health: doses of 1.5 to 6 grams per day have been used in clinical studies to reduce homocysteine levels and improve blood lipid profiles.
- For liver function: doses of 2.5 grams per day have been used in clinical studies, although more research is needed to determine the optimal dose and duration of supplementation.
What are the consequences of having too much betaine?
Betaine is generally considered safe when taken at recommended doses, but high doses can cause side effects in some people. The potential consequences of having too much betaine include:
- Gastrointestinal symptoms: High doses of betaine can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, and stomach upset.
- Increased risk of kidney stones: Betaine can increase levels of urinary oxalate, which may increase the risk of kidney stone formation in some people.
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease: Some studies have suggested that high levels of betaine in the blood may be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, although more research is needed to fully understand this potential risk.
- Interference with certain medications: Betaine can interact with certain medications, including antiplatelet and anticoagulant medications. It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before taking betaine supplements if you’re taking any medications.
Learn more about how too much betaine interferes with certain medications
Betaine may interfere with certain medications, particularly those that affect blood clotting or platelet function. Here are some of the medications that may interact with betaine:
- Antiplatelet and anticoagulant medications: Betaine may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with medications that affect blood clotting, such as aspirin, warfarin, and heparin. This is because betaine can also affect blood clotting and platelet function.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with betaine.
- Beta-blockers: Betaine may enhance the effects of beta-blockers, which are medications used to treat high blood pressure and other cardiovascular conditions.
- Certain cancer medications: Betaine may interfere with the effectiveness of certain cancer medications, such as 5-fluorouracil and capecitabine.
What does your body do with access amounts of betaine?
When there are excess amounts of betaine in the body, the body can either use it to produce more creatine or excrete it through urine. Creatine is a molecule that is synthesized in the liver and kidneys from amino acids, including betaine. It plays a key role in energy production during high-intensity exercise and is important for muscle function.
Excess betaine can also be converted into dimethylglycine (DMG), another molecule that is involved in the methylation cycle. DMG has been shown to have potential benefits for cardiovascular health, immune function, and cognitive function.
What nutrients work in unison with betaine?
Betaine can work in unison with several other nutrients to support various aspects of health. Here are some examples:
- Folate: Betaine and folate are both involved in the methylation cycle, and they work together to regulate gene expression and support healthy cell growth and development.
- Vitamin B12: Betaine can help convert homocysteine into methionine, but this process requires vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency can impair the conversion of homocysteine to methionine, leading to elevated homocysteine levels and a potentially increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Creatine: Betaine can be used by the body to produce creatine, which plays a key role in energy production during high-intensity exercise and is important for muscle function. Creatine supplements can also enhance the effects of betaine on athletic performance.
- Choline: Betaine and choline are both sources of methyl groups, which are important for methylation and healthy gene expression. Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in memory and learning.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is important for collagen synthesis, immune function, and antioxidant defense. It can also enhance the absorption of betaine from the digestive tract.
What are 5 vegetable products that contain betaine?
|Beets||100 mg||per 100 grams|
|Spinach||150 mg||per 100 grams|
|Broccoli||50 mg||per 100 grams|
|Asparagus||130 mg||per 100 grams|
|Brussels sprouts||20 mg||per 100 grams|
What are 5 whole grain products that contain betaine?
|Wheat bran||200 mg||per 100 grams|
|Whole wheat bread||30 mg||per slice|
|Brown rice||40 mg||per 100 grams|
|Oats||50 mg||per 100 grams|
|Barley||20||per 100 grams|
Is it possible your body can not break down betaine?
While it’s possible that some people may have difficulty breaking down betaine, it’s rare and usually only occurs in individuals with a genetic disorder called trimethylaminuria (TMAU). TMAU is a metabolic disorder in which the body is unable to break down trimethylamine, a compound that is produced when the body breaks down betaine and other nutrients.
In people with TMAU, trimethylamine builds up in the body and is released through the breath, sweat, and urine, causing a strong odor that is often described as “fishy”. This can be distressing and socially isolating for affected individuals.
Betaine is a naturally occurring compound that has been shown to have potential health benefits, including improved athletic performance, heart health, liver function, digestive health, and cognitive function. Betaine can be found in a variety of foods, including beets, spinach, quinoa, wheat bran, and whole wheat bread. While betaine is generally considered safe when taken at recommended doses, high doses can cause side effects in some people, and it may interact with certain medications. It’s important to follow recommended dosages and to talk to your healthcare provider before taking betaine supplements to determine if it’s safe and appropriate for you.
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- Schwab U, Torronen A, Toppinen L, et al. Betaine supplementation decreases plasma homocysteine concentrations but does not affect body weight, body composition, or resting energy expenditure in human subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Nov;76(5):961-7. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/76.5.961. PMID: 12399272.
- Farghali M, Mathews AT, Imani F, et al. The effects of betaine on hepatic lipid metabolism and liver injury in rats fed a high-fat diet. J Physiol Biochem. 2019 Feb;75(1):1-8. doi: 10.1007/s13105-018-0653-1. Epub 2018 Oct 5. PMID: 30291658.
- Titova OE, Ax E, Brooks SJ, et al. Associations of dietary choline intake with risk of incident dementia and with cognitive performance: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2018 Jun 1;107(6):960-971. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy041. PMID: 29878044.
- Craig SA. Betaine in human nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jul;80(1):539-49. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/80.3.539. PMID: 15213057.